A new year invites new opportunities. In the content marketing landscape, marketers have the chance to explore new approaches and innovative methods for engaging potential customers. As you head into 2020, take a look at our predictions for emerging trends in content marketing and how the industry continues to evolve. You may just gain some insight into your next strategy.

Data-Driven, Personalized Content

Gone are the days where customers are unaware they’re seeing an ad. Consumers today are attuned to the traditional ploys of getting them to see your content. So why not let them know you’re listening and deliver something they actually need? And don’t be weird about it. 

By personalizing your content for viewers, you’re tapping into the humanizing aspect of marketing and showing you understand their needs. With data, you’ll uncover meaningful insights about potential customers that help you create better personalized content for them in the future. The new year brings with it further opportunities for brands to craft targeted messages for their customers, and serve up content that’s optimizing the customer journey. 

It’s all about delivering relevant, useful information. That’s the benefit of hyper-targeted content. 

Transparency

The call for data transparency has dominated the news this year, but 2020 is asking for even more authentic, transparent data. Those not on board will soon be left behind. Transparency is crucial for brands as they strive to be trustworthy and upfront with consumers, and it can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes for both parties involved. Consumers can obtain the security they desire and brands can craft more personalized offers, to gain the trust of audiences they want, with high-quality data.

Don’t forget - people are wary of companies abusing data privileges. Take into account what you’re measuring, and leave out what’s not truly necessary. Don’t be creepy. It’ll help in the long run. 

Live Video

If you were bearish about live video, 2019 is the year that made you rethink that stance. More people are watching live videos, and more trusted brands are taking advantage of these audiences. What began as niche, unpolished looks at your favorite Instagram stars and Twitch streamers has turned into a full-fledged industry. What’s more, is that it’s retained the authenticity and excitement with which it began. 

While it’s more polished, it still gives audiences a behind-the-scenes look. They feel like they’re peeking behind the curtain of businesses that usually serve them hyper-curated social media and advertising campaigns. Eighty percent of viewers prefer live video to blogs, and engagement on Facebook Live videos runs six times higher than an average video. 

It’s one thing to learn something from a blog or a video. It’s an entirely different experience to ask a question and get an answer immediately from the brand itself. It’s more engaging, authentic, and overall, fun. 

Interactive Content

People want to be involved. It’s a slog to read a blog about a subject you’re only half-interested in, from a company you don’t like in the first place. Meanwhile, it takes much less effort to follow a simple quiz. Or a VR journey through a stomach to learn about gut bacteria. Or a raffle to win a surfboard. 

When a brand wows you with some truly engaging, interactive content - whether it’s digital or tangible - it makes an impression. It takes some true hard work on the part of the brand but lends itself to a much stronger emotional attachment and memorable experience. 

Micro-Influencers

We’ve said it before, but we’ll repeat it. Get people talking about your product. When a message is coming from an actual person, other people take notice. Not a brand, not a celebrity, not a pseudo-social media celebrity. 

People trust niche influencers because they tend to have more curated messages and more meaningful opinions. They aren’t bending over backwards to satisfy any flash-in-the-pan lifestyle fads. They’re thinking about what they would use in their daily life, for their obscure hobby, or out on the job. And when they recommend a product, people are listening. 

To add to this, if you’re empowering your customers, you’re building trust. They will be authentic, energized advocates creating free content for your brand. And you’ll have their business for life. 

Content Marketing Investment

It’s an exciting time to be a content marketer. Brands are finally taking notice, and budgets are rising! Branded content is a critical component in audience education, engagement, and customer retention. With larger budgets, too, content can take advantage of more accurate targeting. It can fit in more precisely as a component of the buyer’s journey, making sure that the collateral is leading customers all the way through the funnel. 

If you’re looking for dedicated customers down the line, start off by serving them something simple, like an informative blog piece, then keep it up with continuous relevant content. Over time, you’ll be their go-to resource. And you won’t be able to shake them.

Overall, none of this is possible without good content. Increased budgets mean more resources and talent, and a more exceptional ability to fulfill your ideal strategies. 

Authenticity

Look. Preaching authenticity isn’t new, but some companies still don’t get it. Don’t underestimate your audience. Brands need to build trust, and consumers are more willing than ever to side with companies whose values align with their own. This rings especially true as larger swaths of people edge towards being less trusting of brands overall, specifically big data, tech, and advertising. 

Showing a genuine brand story through content remains crucial. Make sure your output is relevant, informative, and rings true. Make sure you believe in your efforts, or your customers never will. 

As always, transparency is part and parcel to trust. If you strip away as many layers as you can afford, you show your willingness to open up, as well as vulnerability to scrutiny and outside attacks. While frightening, this is a necessary step to strengthening your company for the future. Those vulnerabilities and weaknesses will make themselves known eventually, and could be more harmful if not dealt with head-on, in broad daylight.